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1 Million Signatures to protect the Mesoamerican Reef

As the 20th anniversary of the Tulum Declaration approaches, more than one million people have signed an online petition that calls on the heads of state for Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras to continue their commitment to protecting the MesoAmerican Reef System and conserve its resources and natural beauty through sustainable means.

The Mesoamerican Reef System (MRS) is the second-largest barrier reef in the world after the Australian Great Barrier Reef. Measuring more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from north to south, the MRS is home to hundreds of fish species, endangered sea turtles, avian species, sharks, and a number of endangered species like the brown Pelican.

June 5, 2017, will mark the 20th anniversary of the Tulum Declaration that was signed as part of the International Year of Reef. The Tulum Declaration was the foundation for the Mesoamerican Caribbean Reef System initiative that built a multilateral framework for promoting the sustainable conversation of the reef. The online petition is designed to push the four cooperating governments to increase their commitment to protecting the reef, including preventing toxic discharges in the area, work to eliminate the destruction of mangrove forests, and address climate change impacts on the reef.

Belize, one of the original signatories of the Tulum Declaration, has made tremendous progress in preserving and protecting its stretch of the MRS, known as the Belize Barrier Reef. Belize has more than 200 miles of reef included in the larger MRS and has established several protected marine areas and national parks to control and regulate sustainable tourism and fishing practices in the area. In 1997, then Belizean Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel declared that the Tulum Declaration is proof positive of the collective will of regional governments that will allow better management of the reefs and their biodiversity.

“Belize has benefited greatly in the 20 years since the signing of the Tulum Declaration, and we strongly support the petition to continue pushing for sustainable practices all along the reef system,” said Larry France, marketing manager of Chabil Mar Villas in Placencia, Belize. “Fish and other marine species are now thriving in the Belize Barrier Reef, and a biodiverse reef is a tremendous asset for the tourism industry. Visitors will continue to visit Belize and the reef if we protect the natural environment.”

Chabil Mar is an award-winning resort located on the Caribbean coast of the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize. Chabil Mar offers guests a number of Belize vacation packages and organized tour options for exploring the best that the Belize Barrier Reef has to offer, including snorkeling, sailing, fishing, and scuba diving.

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